Brodsky’s legacy 80 years after his birth

Brodsky’s legacy 80 years after his birth
02 June 2020

Russian poet, English essayist and American citizen, Brodsky was born 80 years ago in St. Petersburg before living a unique life and leaving an important influence in international literature.


Brodsky was born on the 24th of Mai 1987 in Leningrad, in a Russian family. During The Siege of Leningrad, Brodsky and his family will endure great suffering due to their Jewish status, notably hunger and various health problems. Anti-Semitic teachers and hate towards Lenin will make him leave school at an early age (15-16), but his thirst for knowledge is far from being gone. Indeed, he will then start self-education and cultivate interest for different subjects, from Human Sciences to History, Philosophy and Mythology, as well as learning English and Polish.


His multiple talents and interests let him enter literature circles, where he will notably meet Evgueni Rein and Anna Akhmatova, which are so impressed by his work that they highly encourage him to pursue poetry. His growing success will also create growing suspicion by the soviet forces, which will get him arrested in 1964 for “social parasitism”.  This will not only exile him for a year to the Arkhangelsk Oblast, but also prevent him from publishing his work.


For this reason, he will voluntarily leave his home country in 1972 for Lithuania, before being officially expulsed in 1972. He then leaves for the USA and starts writing his poems in English, as well as translates some of his works in Russian. His perfect integration will not only confer him the American nationality in 1977, but also give his work the recognition it deserves. While he became a teacher at the University of Michigan, he will meet his student and wife Maria Sozzani, which will give him a daughter. The author will die in 1996 from a heart attack.


The author’s uniqueness finds its roots in the diversity of his influences: finding inspiration in Russian as well as American authors, he will also adopt themes and points of view from both sides. Indeed, he will use the typically Peterburgian acmeism movement, and at, the same time, approach metaphysical concerns we can also find in English poetry (John Donne notably).

Posted by Kim Schierke

My name is Kim, I’m 21 years old and I just graduated from International Relations at the University of Geneva. I have always been fascinated by Russia, because of its language and its culture. During my studies, this interest has kept on growing and I even ended up writing my thesis about it. Learning the language, therefore, comes as an evidence.

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